Pet crow bonds with fatherless boy in inspirational novel by Paul Argentini

VENICE, Fla.Sunbury Press has released Charlie Caw, Paul Argentini’s latest novel, for middle grade and young adults.

cc_fcAbout the Book:
A crow that picks wildflowers and delivers them to show affection, and a fatherless boy who teaches the bird how to fly create a heartwarming story of these two disparate beings going and growing with one another. Their deep and abiding companionship keeps them close, yet they remain free to maintain all their relationships. Each protects the other in awkward situations, but they respect one another to allow the freedom to make individual choices. They confront humorous and dangerous situations with daring spirit learning a bit more of the other’s world with each confrontation. CHARLIE CAW is such a likeable story one can only believe it is true. It will find a niche in your memory for a long, long time.

Charlie Partridge caught at his breath with the firing squad’s volley. His body tensed. He expected the bullets to tear through his clothes and into his flesh. He felt as if they already had.

It was the nightmare. Again.

The panorama of the cemetery flashed into his mind. There was the October mackerel sky and the flag-draped casket suspended over the blackness. Standing were dozens of people wearing mask-like faces. As he had never seen her, there was his mother sitting under the canopy: her face white and drawn, her eyes glowing briquettes, her lips held tight to a slash. There was the bass-drum monotone of the minister uttering profundities. There was the cadre of officers and the honor guard who had escorted the fallen decorated hero to this country gravesite with its majesty of flowers. There was the formal precision of the military funeral. These ceremonies were for his father, Lt. James Partridge, but he hoped they had made a mistake and it really was someone else.

More volleys followed.

Charlie wondered if such a barrage had also resounded before the hero had died. He wondered if he, too, had smelled the acrid smoke from burning gunpowder.

Charlie watched the haze settle softly among the blades of dew-damp grass. Then, closing his eyes, he saw himself start to fall as if into an abyss of reverie: it was dawn. His father whistled, as usual, as he slipped into his bedroom to wake him. As they had done so many times before, father, mother, and son grabbed a quick breakfast and the fishing gear, then the three of them were off. Shortly thereafter, he stood shivering in the gurgle and splash of the spring-fed brook where the bespeckled trout hid.

Charlie opened his eyes. A stern-faced officer bowed before Charlie’s mother. He offered her the triangularly-folded American flag. With yet another rush of tears, she took it and clutched it to her breast. Without straightening, the officer turned to Charlie seated beside her, and their eyes locked. As if taking part in a conspiracy, he signaled Charlie with a slight nod.

He watched the officer perform an agonizingly slow salute to his mother and to the flag. Charlie felt the wet at the small of his back turn cold. Then, the officer beckoned with his fingers and nodded, indicating Charlie was to follow him. Charlie stood. They walked to the far end of the headstone-studded field.

“We need to talk,” the officer said to Charlie.

Charlie stared at his medals, then at the man’s chest. “Your shirt is stained, sir,” Charlie said.

“I apologize if it troubles you,” he said pointing, “but this is a blood stain from the wound that earned me the Silver Star Medal and took my life. That’s what happened to your father,” the officer responded. “Only those who have been wounded in battle may have the honor of participating in the ceremonies for a fallen comrade. It is my privilege and honor to be here.” The officer turned toward the knot of people surrounding the open grave, then asked, “Were you and your dad close, Charlie?”

Charlie raised his eyebrows and looked up at the man, nodding his head for several seconds, then said, “Sir, I must go home. Now.”

“Sorry, son,” he said. “To leave this cemetery, you need to be brave; you need to be courageous and you need to be strong. You must allow yourself to cry. You must accept what has happened. This funeral will go on until you accept the fact that your dad is not coming back. When you acknowledge that, then this funeral will end.”

“Everything was so sudden,” Charlie said.

The officer put his hand on Charlie’s shoulder and said, “You can only deny this for so long.” The soldier’s face grew even more somber as he folded his arms and continued, “Time is another problem. When is your next birthday?”

“June sixteenth. I’ll be fourteen.”

“Fourteen! Is that so? You seem older. The fact is, your next birthday, that’s your deadline.”

“Deadline?” Charlie flexed his eyebrows. “Why a deadline?”

The officer shrugged. “Son, many brave men and women fall in battle. Each one deserves to be commemorated, such as we are doing now for your dad. But, we only have so much time for each funeral, or we’d fall way behind. We want to serve everyone their full measure of respect. Once you acknowledge that it is your father’s funeral, you will be through with the formalities, the grieving, and with us here at the cemetery. It will allow us to move on with our work, and you can get on with your life.”

“Thank you, Sir”, Charlie said. “All I know is that something important has changed in my life. It’s so confusing, and I don’t understand any of it.”

“I regret to say understanding will come with time. Meanwhile, it’s like getting measles, you just have to work through it,” the officer said. “The apparitions and demons must be worse.”

Charlie felt the muscles in his face tighten. “Yes, they’re just awful. They’re frightening.” He pulled his shoulders back and said, “Mother’s alone. I must go.” He turned and marched with the officer back to the ceremony.

The brittle, dredging notes of the bugler’s taps consumed the air as if to suffocate Charlie.

He found his arms tight around his mother with his face buried in the folded flag, her spasms pulsating through and shaking his body for an endless moment. Then, taking his mother’s lead, he tried to place the rose he found in his hand on the imposing coffin. He could not let go of the stem – it stuck to his fingers! Shake as hard as he could, the flower still clung to him, and he felt it draw him into the void beneath the casket.

Charlie Caw
Authored by Paul Argentini
List Price: $24.95
Hardcover: 154 pages
Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc. (April 23, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620065851
ISBN-13: 978-1620065853
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
BISAC: Fiction / Young Adult / Relationships

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One-Eyed Bandit a longshot for the Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky.Sunbury Press has released The B Team, Alan Mindell’s novel about one-eyed horse and his amazing rise to fame.

tbt_fcAbout the Book:
A one-eyed racehorse in the Kentucky Derby? His biggest fan is a young boy, himself with only one useful eye. Seven people, all at key stages of their lives, combine to purchase the horse, One-Eyed Bandit, from a claiming race at Santa Anita. What follows is the heartwarming chronicle of the horse’s remarkable journey and the inspiration he provides his owners.

“Any lookers?” Cory asked Carlos Souza, his longtime assistant. Carlos, Rugged Landing, and Ramon Carquinez—the horse’s groom—had just joined Cory in the number-three stall of the circular Turf Paradise saddling paddock.

“No, Boss,” Carlos answered. “I do not see anyone.”

Cory nodded. Apparently he’d been right about the unlikeliness of Rugged Landing being claimed. If anyone were interested, Carlos probably would have spotted them while walking with Rugged Landing from the stable area to the receiving barn to here. Cory had also been right about a breeze—a slight one had sprung up, maybe tempering the stifling heat by five degrees.

Cory patted the lanky chestnut on the side of his neck. The valet for Cesar Alvarez, Rugged Landing’s regular jockey, arrived with saddle, girth and stirrups. Working together, Cory and the valet began affixing the equipment to the horse. Cory really liked this part of the sport—saddling, meeting the jockey, perhaps strategizing and pre-race anticipation. He glanced quickly at the odds board and saw that Rugged Landing was five to two, lukewarm favorite in the field of ten.

“Hey guys… Sucker’s gonna win again.”

Cory didn’t have to look to know who had joined them. Nor that the new arrival wore the usual old beat-up tan cowboy hat and bright yellow golf shirt and shorts. This was a part of the sport Cory didn’t like—dealing with Bill Donley, Rugged Landing’s owner. In his mid-fifties, Donley had an enormous potbelly and a head markedly too big for his body.

“Sucker doin’ good?” Donley inquired.

“Fine,” Cory grunted.

“Think we’ll lose him?”

“Not according to Carlos.”

“Well, we do, we do. Main thing… squeeze another win outta the sucker.”

Cory winced silently. This horse could win a thousand races and Donley would have no authentic feeling for him. Once he and the valet finished the saddling, Cory rubbed his hands together, patted Rugged Landing again on the neck and motioned Ramon to walk him around the paddock. The valet left and while Carlos remained in the stall, Cory and Donley headed for the grass in the center of the paddock, where the jockeys for the race were already assembling. They had no problem finding Alvarez in Donley’s bright yellow silks, almost the identical color of his shirt and shorts. Garish, no question, but at least easy to spot during a race.

“Go get ‘em, jock,” Donley greeted Alvarez. “Sucker’s ready.”

Cory winced again. He was, of course, proud of his affiliation with Rugged Landing—obviously much more than with the horse’s owner. Alvarez—about forty, muscular and short, even for a jockey—shook Donley’s hand, then Cory’s.

“You know how to ride him,” Cory said. He saw no reason for any further instruction to the jockey.

“Don’t be afraid to crack him a few times,” Donley chimed in, “with your stick.”

Cory winced once more. Rugged Landing didn’t need to be whipped. It was almost an insult. Pretty much like Cory giving the rider instructions. The horse knew exactly where he was and what he was doing at every stage of a race. Simply put, if there was any way he could beat you, he would.

A track official called for “riders up” and Ramon led Rugged Landing to a spot right in front of them. Cory boosted Alvarez aboard the horse. As the track bugler played the call to post, a spectator outside the paddock, probably inebriated, yelled something unintelligible at Alvarez. Cory watched Rugged Landing step onto the track.

“Sit with me,” Donley said. “Wanna talk to you.”

In truth, Cory would rather sit with Carlos and Ramon, who were moving toward a place along the outer rail of the track. Donley seemed insistent though, and at least his box seats were in the shade. On the way Cory paused to gaze at Rugged Landing, jogging past them. Beyond the horse, he couldn’t help noticing the turf course and infield, the grass on both wilted into an ugly yellowish-brown. How many times had he been here, at Turf Paradise, over the years? Two, three thousand? Maybe more.

A couple of spectators approached to ask him if he liked his horse today. He merely nodded and smiled obligatorily. It didn’t take long to reach Donley’s box, directly above the finish line. The crowd was sparse—the heat, a weekday, final race on the program. No question Rugged Landing deserved better than this.

“Want me to get you a drink?” Donley asked as they sat down in his seats. “Or a bet?”

“Neither,” Cory answered, aware that he was very much an oddity around a racetrack, in both categories. He’d never acquired a taste for alcohol and didn’t care for the sweetness of soft drinks. Plain water suited him fine. And, over the years, the few times he’d bet on his own horses was like the kiss of death. They’d always lost. Nor did he have his father’s acumen for betting on other people’s.

“Thinking about New Mexico,” Donley disclosed.

“For the summer?”

“Nah. Year round. Since they put in slots down there, purses are much better than here.”

“Would you send all your horses?” Cory asked.

“Least three or four to start. Interested?”

Relocation wasn’t a new topic for Cory. Actually, while driving the short distance to the track an hour ago, he reviewed his options once more.

AlanAbout the Author
Alan Mindell has owned and bred racehorses for many years. His horses have raced at many tracks, including Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, Del Mar, Golden Gate Fields, Emerald Downs, Turf Paradise, Arlington Park, Tampa Bay Downs and Canterbury Park. A former standout baseball player at the University of California, Berkeley, he won four gold medals as a sprinter in the 2012 San Diego Senior Olympics and is a world-class 400 meter runner in his age group.

The B Team: A Horse Racing Saga
Authored by Alan Mindell
List Price: $16.95
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
246 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620065952
ISBN-10: 1620065959
BISAC: Fiction / Sports

For more information, please see:…